Good News, 08.27.09

Friends:

It’s not enough to have lived.  We should be determined to live for something.  May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of humankind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely?  Leo Buscaglia

Health Care Dialogue: We will meet again this Sunday right after the service. Mark Miller invites you to join the group who will look at arguments for and against health care reform.

Our thanks and congratulations to Christine Johansson who has agreed to serve as our next Deacon of Youth and Family!

Peace Middle School Youth Group:
There will be an informational meeting for kids and parents about the Youth Group on Sunday Sept. 15th right after Church.  Ceil McCloy will lead the group and during that meeting we will go over the Middle School Youth committments and also some ideas for the fall.  The St. Francis Animal Blessing and Festival on October 4 where we helped last year, is asking for our help this year too.  Peace has invested in recycling containers and we have voluntered to take them to the recycling center (and keep the proceeds for the Youth Group!).  If there are other Middle School kids (including your friends) that might be interested in joining our Group please pass this information along.

The St. Francis Animal Blessing and Festival Committee meets after worship this Sunday.  It’s already a group of 18 people.  Others may join us – more involvment will mean more fun.  Your ideas are welcomed.

Fr. Carl Gracely’s 100th Birthday will be celebrated at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek on Thursday August 27th.  In addition to Fr. Carl’s birthday this is an affirmation of the very successful Pastoral Care programming that he envisioned and implemented in partnership with our Pastoral Care Services Board, community congregations, medical staff and hospital administration of John Muir Hospital.  Our own Chaplain Dwane Michael inherited the mantle and has been serving as the Senior Chaplain at John Muir for the past 20 years.  Congratulations Fr. Carl!

Here’s a note from Tom Grossman about an incident on their “family vacation”: We did have an incredible family service experience while backpacking last week – we came to the aid of a horse rider with a serious head injury that eventually required helicopter evacuation. Sarah ended up walking out a couple of middle-school boys in her party who didn’t have any warm clothes; she hiked the trail three times. Caroline helped signal the helicopters and also spoon-fed the patient and her boyfriend who was holding c-spine with both hands for hours.  (Editor’s Comment: Rescue efforts by members of Peace may not be as dramatic as this one, but I know they are happening week after week!)

Please keep Margaret Bender and the unemployed in your prayers.

Pr. Anita shared a story about moving from seclusion to transformation this past Sunday.  The church at large needs our prayer in this time of transition.  We also recognize this day has been a long time coming for many of us.  Here is an article about the decision made at the national ELCA convention.

ELCA Assembly Opens Ministry to Partnered Gay and Lesbian Lutherans

MINNEAPOLIS (ELCA) – The 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted today to open the ministry of the church to gay and lesbian pastors and other professional workers living in committed relationships.

The action came by a vote of 559-451 at the highest legislative body of the 4.6 million member denomination. Earlier the assembly also approved a resolution committing the church to find ways for congregations that choose to do so to “recognize, support and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same gender relationships,” though the resolution did not use the word “marriage.”

The actions here change the church’s policy, which previously allowed gays and lesbians into the ordained ministry only if they remained celibate.

Throughout the assembly, which opened Aug. 17, the more than 1,000 voting members have debated issues of human sexuality. On Wednesday they adopted a social statement on the subject as a teaching tool and policy guide for the denomination.

The churchwide assembly of the ELCA is meeting here Aug. 17-23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About 2,000 people are participating, including 1,045 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is “God’s work. Our hands.”

Before discussing the thornier issues of same-gender unions in the ordained ministry, the assembly approved, by a vote of 771-230, a resolution committing the church to respect the differences of opinions on the matter and honor the “bound consciences” of those who disagree.

During the hours of discussion, led by ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson, the delegates paused several times each hour for prayer, sometimes as a whole assembly, sometimes in small groups around the tables where the voting members of the assembly sat, debated and cast their votes.

Discussion here proved that matters of sexuality will be contentious throughout the church. A resolution that would have reasserted the church’s current policy drew 344 votes, but failed because it was rejected by 670 of the voting members.
Pastor Richard Mahan of the ELCA West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod was among several speakers contending that the proposed changes are contrary to biblical teaching. “I cannot see how the church that I have known for 40 years can condone what God has condemned,” Mahan said, “Nowhere does it say in scripture that homosexuality and same sex marriage is acceptable of God.”

But others said a greater acceptance of people who are gay and lesbian in the church was consistent with the Bible. Bishop Gary Wollersheim of the ELCA Northern Illinois Synod said, “It’s a matter of justice, a matter of hospitality, it’s what Jesus would have us do.” Wollersheim said he had been strongly influenced by meetings with youth at youth leadership events in his synod, a regional unit of the ELCA.

Some speakers contend that the actions taken here will alienate ELCA members and cause a drop in membership. But Allison Guttu of the ELCA Metropolitan New York Synod said, “I have seen congregations flourish while engaging these issues; I have seen congregations grow recognizing the gifts of gay and lesbian pastors.”

During discussion of resolutions on implementation of the proposals, Bishop Kurt Kusserow of the ELCA Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod asked that the church make clear provision in its policies to recognize the conviction of members who believe that this church cannot call or roster people in a publicly accountable, lifelong, monagamous, same-gender relationship. A resolution that the denomination consider a proposal for how it will exercise flexibility within its existing structure and practices to allow Lutherans in same gender relationship to be approved for professional service in the church. That resolution passed by a vote of 667-307.

Blessings, Pr. Steve

Good News, 08.20.09

Friends:

Wisdom asks:  Who is Simple?  Come this way. – Proverbs 9

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. – Rumi

Wonderful blessings were received through Amar and Sybomar Khalsa this past Sunday.  Chanting, breathing, singing, praying – just as our Ephesians text encouraged.  It is profound how spiritual centering and calm can transform us.

Zhiting is visiting with her family in China this summer.  She sends her greetings.  It is good to have Gun safely back with us.

Flyers for our St. Francis Animal Blessing and Festival on October 4 have been prepared for you to distribute to friends and animal lover agencies and services.  Please pick some up on Sunday.

President Mark Miller invited members of Peace to a dialogue about Health Care Reform.  Half a dozen people have already agreed to participate.  Date and time are to be announced.  Staggering amounts of misinformation are being hurled in many directions.  Though quite challenging it is time for Civil Discourse to become the norm in our nation again.  Please join with others from Peace so we can engage the health care debate in a constructive way based on our faith values.

Myanmar’s military junta extended Nobel Peace laureate and pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s imprisonment by 18 months after finding her guilty of violating the terms of her house arrest.  She has been under house arrest since her democratic election to the presidency of Myanmar 12 years ago.

Please keep the unemployed, Aung San Suu Kyi, the people of Myanmar and Honduras, Troy Davis, Genevieve, Jerry, Roger, Denise, students beginning and returning to college and all our loved ones in your prayers.

You are in for another blessing this Sunday with Jean and Jeanie providing our musical leadership.  Expect a happy heart!

Inspired by the initiative of Pat Thergesen, Property Deacon Everett Sylwanowicz has gotten our new dishwasher installed.  This will contribute to our greening efforts at Peace as well as easing the clean up process for our receptions.

The sunflowers at Peace have been abundantly glorious these last weeks.  I wonder where they came from?  And thanks to all who have been on weeding patrol around the grounds.  Feel free to extract the weeds whenever you wish.

Blessings, Pr. Steve

Good News, 08.14.09

Friends:

To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.         Mary Oliver

Our thanks to Jean Sylwanowicz and Jeanie Locklear for assisting Achi Ben Shalom this past Sunday. What a liturgical celebration of Israeli songs and dance with our Interfaith Friends. (They were deeply moved by our Peace Mosaic also.)  Our worship made real our Christian connections with Judaism and the Hebrew Scriptures.  And thanks to Pr. Margareta for being nearly apprehended by the police for praying in the Interfaith Chapel at Heathrow Airport.  What a story.  Keep singing, dancing and chanting the praises of God.

This Sunday Amar Khalsa (perhaps with family and friends) will return to lead us in Sanskrit and English Chants.  I am sure this will be a Eucharistic Service of contemplative joy and grace.  Feel free to invite your friends.

On Tuesday, September 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church in Sunnyvale, CA.  Art Simon, Founder of Bread for the World will talk about his new book, The Rising of Bread for the World: An Outcry of Citizens Against Hunger. The event is free and open to the public, but please RSVP so we can reserve your copy of The Rising of Bread for the World. Art will share the surprising story of how God uses ordinary people to make an extraordinary difference in the lives of hungry people. In the 1970s, Art served as a Lutheran pastor in New York’s Lower East Side.  He brought together Catholics and Protestants in an organized effort to urge Congress to address the root causes of hunger.  Today, 35 years later, Bread for the World is the nation’s foremost Christian voice against hunger. Under Art’s leadership, Bread for the World convinced Congress to make policy changes that continue to provide help and opportunity to hungry people today.

Matt and Jen Collins would like to offer you an online coupon for Metromint Water – very tasty!  Simply go here to print out your coupons.

Thanks to young Bob Winter for – ascending the heights to change our lights – in the sanctuary.  “He risked life and limb, so we could sing hymns…..”.  Blessings to all the college students who are beginning or returning to school this Fall.

Continue to sing our psalm from this past Sunday:  Libi uv’sari, Yeranenu el eil chai (“My body and soul sing with joy to the Living God”)

Blessings, Pr. Steve

Good News, 08.04.09

Friends:

“If we want to learn to ‘thank’ aright we must ‘think’ about the miracle of life that is happening to us.  For thinking and thanking belong together.  Both are worship and they cannot be separted.  Both are an exercise everyday.”  Helmut Thielecke

Achi ben Shalom will contribute Israeli music and songs to our worship this Sunday.  The Chorus got off to a good start.  If you wish to join us you may do so on Thursday at 7 and Sunday at 9 am.  The Sacred Visits Pilot Project (sponsored by the Interfaith Council) are visiting various congregations on an Interfaith Tour during August.  They will be with us on Sunday as well.  Invite your friends.

Amar Khalsa with family and friends will lead us in Sanskrit Chants from the Sikh tradition on August 16.  Amar has been with us before and I am sure you will appreciate his gifts again.

Our Recycling Bins have arrived.  Thank you Ro for ordering and assembling them!

Here is a beautiful letter from Stefan Safsten, the Jarva Roster Choir Director.  I think you’ll appreciate his reflections

“I have been home for several weeks now but my heart and soul are still in California. I understand more and more that the “Words of Realness” experience has been something I will carry in my heart for a long time if not as long as I live. To be involved in something like this, I believe is so much greater than just a composition for a choir or a tour. It has touched my heart in a way that has changed my life. I do believe that faith can move mountains and the power of God is so much more than one can believe or comprehend.

7 years ago I jumped on a train – I did not understand the destination. I still don’t understand. Something in Spoon’s lyrics is so strong and they speak to me in a way that that heals me. I know my own history and to “be real” as Spoon says, is one thing I’ve always strived for. Now I have got a new brother in Spoon so I think that God has planned it all.

I don’t believe in the decree of fate but I do believe that God has a plan for every single human being. I am so happy to have met with people that don’t believe that one must be Pentecostal, Orthodox, Lutheran, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or something else in particular to be in God’s plan. I think God is so much greater than that. Who can ever say what’s right or wrong? Who can ever say I’m innocent? I guess no one can. And who am I to judge?

Maybe this can help Spoon to be free in the future. Maybe he is already more free than any of us who are struggling with our own dilemmas. Spoon always says: Stay real!  I will do my best to keep it real. Thank you for all your support. Please say hello to the congregation in Danville. I don’t think the choir ever before has gotten such a good reception! “

And – Greetings from Phil and George who are resting on a Greek Isle…… and thinking of all their friends at Peace.

Blessing,  Pr. Steve